For 25 years, Dixie White’s career consisted of singing in a traveling gospel group that crossed the country, and for the last 27, she has specialized in a skill she originally learned on the road – working as a nail technician.
White’s mother and brother were both part of the gospel group, and since they traveled so frequently (averaging 330 performance dates per year with little time off), home base for her family was the home of her grandmother, Valara Arnold, in Three Rivers.
“For 25 years, my family and I spent most of our time traveling with The Gospel Lamplighters,” White said. “When the group broke up, we went in different directions. I was careerless. I had spent my whole life in the ministry.”
She said when her career as a gospel singer ended, the change hit her hard initially.
“I missed it terribly,” White said. “I was devastated at first. I wasn’t married at the time, and in my mind that’s what I planned to do with the rest of my life.
“God had a bigger plan. Here in Three Rivers, I met my husband (Larry White), and I wouldn’t have met him if I didn’t come off the road.”
At one of the churches she visited, someone gave her a nail kit, and she began practicing her skills during long days on the tour bus.
After leaving the ministry, White said she drove a school bus for a while and worked at the Valero convenience store in Three Rivers before eventually going to school to become a certified nail technician.
“When I first opened in 1994, I worked at Hester’s (now in a space occupied by TR Nutrition),” she said. “I bought my own place in 1998.”
White’s brother, Jack Williams, who is now pastor of Covenant Life Fellowship, owned the house at the time and was renting it out before selling it to her. She turned the location into Dixie’s Day Spa.
Although she specializes in nails, others who rent space there offer hair care, massages, waxing and pedicures.
White’s mother, Barbara, worked with her for several years but stopped when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020.
White is in the process of selling the building, but she plans to stay there and continue working as a nail tech and rent space in the property.
“I’m about five to seven years away from retiring, and that will make it easier when the time comes,” she said. “Plus, I’ll be able to just focus on nails and not all the upkeep that goes with the property.”
Asked what she likes most about being a nail tech, White said it is the customers.
“Definitely the clients,” she said. “I have had some with me nearly the whole time,” she said. “We survived COVID, but we lost some of the people who had worked here, but we’re building it back.”
Longtime customer Erin Fox said she and other customers have remained loyal over the years because they appreciate White’s skill and dedication.
“She’s darn good at what she does,” Fox said. “Once you get started here, you don’t stop because it’s so good. I also feel like she is hygienically perfect. Everything is so clean here.
“Personally for me, I also appreciate that she has such a strong faith. If I need counseling, she listens and prays with me, and that’s very comforting for me.”
White said she is always ready to share her faith, but she does not push it.
“If people are comfortable with that, I welcome talking with them about it,” she said. “I feel like this is a new place God put me to minister, but I have never pushed it. I do offer it if people are open to sharing.”